Pac-12 Game Of The Week: Washington at OregonPosted by Connor Pelton on February 9th, 2012
Looking at the rest of the Pac-12 slate, it’s tough to find a bigger game than the one coming up tonight in Eugene. That’s where first place Washington meets fourth place Oregon in a game with huge conference crown implications. For the visiting Huskies, a loss won’t make or break their chances at a conference crown, but they need every good win they can get if they want to earn an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament. On the other side is Oregon, who are losers of its last two games against upper-half conference teams. Not only does that create seperation between the Ducks and the top of the Pac, but it also gives those teams tiebreakers over the Ducks for Pac-12 Tournament seeding. Obviously, a win tonight would be huge for the Ducks. While the ship for an at-large bid has sailed, the Ducks need to do everything they can down the stretch to finish in the top four of the Pac-12. That would mean a first round bye in the Pac-12 Tourney, giving Oregon a solid shot at taking the Pac-12’s automatic bid. There’s no better time to start that journey than tonight.
If Oregon is to have a chance in this one, it will need to shoot the ball better than it did in the first meeting between these two teams. In that New Year’s Eve ESPN2 affair, the Ducks shot just 21.7% from behind the arc. Guard Devoe Joseph was targeted and shut down by the Husky defense, going 0-5 from three and scoring just four points overall. In order to contend with the plethora of Husky sharpshooters (C.J. Wilcox, Abdul Gaddy, and Terrence Ross, to name a few), Joseph needs to have a huge night shooting the ball; Not to mention Johnathan Loyd and Garrett Sim.When the Huskies are on offense, look for the Duck defense to do whatever they can to get the ball into the paint. That sounds strange, but four out of the five Washington guards that saw the floor in the previous meeting absolutely torched the Ducks. The big men scored a total of 12 points, while the guards scored the other 64. The Ducks were able to render Darnell Gant completely useless, and Desmond Simmons didn’t do much better in his place. If Singler and Tony Woods are able to deploy the same tactics as they did last time, and the Oregon guards do a better job of rotating and getting out on shooters, the Ducks can win this one. But if Wilcox or Tony Wroten, Jr., gets hot early, forget about it. Their hot shooting is the reason Washington they sit atop the conference, and if Oregon can’t contain the guards then they might as well not even show up. This should be an entertaining an close game for about 30 minutes, but after that I expect Washington’s talent and athleticism to overrun the Ducks. Oregon has gotten very lucky so far this season against teams like Washington. Against Arizona and Colorado Oregon relied on bad games from the opponents’ top scorer, and the only way they’ll pull off the upset tonight is if Wroten, Jr., and Wilcox have bad games.